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Augmented hands

‘Augmented hand series’

by Golan Levin, Chris Sugrue, and Kyle McDonald, 2013-2015)

‘MIRAGE Illusion Box’ (Roger Newport, 2008)

These are two very similar projects which both transform the image of a hand in real time using Augmented Virtuality (AV, the digital manipulation of real-world objects). Both take the form of a black box, into which the hand is placed. When inside the participant can see their hand as if looking through a window into the box. Inside the box, a system of mirrors and motion tracking is used. An augmented or distorted digital image of the hand is relayed to a screen on the top of the box.

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Image from a video lecture by Golan Leven

Despite the technical similarities, both works stem from entirely different motivations. The ‘MIRAGE Illusion Box’ (Newport, 2018) is a scientific project which can be used in combination with an operator. Seen by its creator as an experimental tool, as well as one of demonstration.  It can be used to investigate a number of experiments, including the ‘finger stretch’[1] and the disappearing hand illusion, which use tactile feedback, such as the pulling of a finger. This has similarities with the Clay hand experiment [outlined in Methods] in which the clay object can be manipulated in real time by the experimenter. ‘MIRAGE illusion box’ has since become a museum interactive. ‘Augmented Hand Series’ (Golan Levin, 2014)  is an artistic project[2], the development of which stems from a deep-rooted playfulness in the artistic practice.

These projects are of interest as they exemplify ways in which the RHI has been incorporated into a device, or tool which generates an illusionary experience. Both works highlight an inherent vulnerability or instability of our perceived body self-image. Representing the body instead as a plastic medium.

My research investigates similar ideas using physical materials [clay]. It also considers the development of automated electronic tools which exploit these phenomena. Understood from the point of view of Somaesthetics, they can be seen as tools which exercise our sense of place within our bodies taunting gently at its periphery. However, it is not the intention of this project to create an interactive, or a device which demonstrates science. Instead, it seeks a deeper interaction, a relationship between the participant, the artist, and the work. Exploring what possibilities are afforded when participant experience can be fed back into the work.

[1] For the finger stretching illusion an operator reaches in from the other side to pull on the finger, providing tactile feedback to enhance the illusion.

[2] which cycles through a number of disturbing variations of distortion and manipulations; extra fingers, pulsating hand, conjoined fingers and more.

Levin, G. (2014) Augmented Hand Series – Interactive Art by Golan Levin and Collaborators. [Online] [Accessed

Newport, R. (2018) Welcome to the MIRAGE Lab. @wordpressdotcom. [Online] [Accessed

More about Mirage Lab

Artist, educator, and researcher working between the fields of science and art.

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